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Ford uses wild weather to test cars and trucks indoors

America's dangerous heat wave hasn't slowed down Ford Motor Co. engineers in suburban Detroit. They're busy doing extreme-weather testing of Ford vehicles. They're using blizzards right now in a special climactic wind tunnel to ensure their wheels won't wither in simulated winter weather.

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While afternoon temperatures have approached or exceeded 100 degrees outside the test facility in the Detroit downriver community of Allen Park almost every day of late, engineers inside are using wind tunnels and computers to see how Fords respond to extreme temperatures ranging from 15 below zero to above 100.

When WXYZ TV in Detroit was invited inside the facility, the cameraman captured images of snow swirling and pounding into a Ford F-350 Super Duty pickup truck (like the one pictured). It was 15 degrees below zero during the taping.

The point of the testing is to ensure Ford vehicles' engines, air filters and intake systems have the endurance to perform well and function properly in bad weather. And to give Ford buyers confidence that their vehicles are safe to be in during all types of weather conditions.

"Every vehicle no matter where it's sold could end up in cold weather conditions," Joe McCann, a Ford engineer, told WXYZ reporter Mary Conway. "We have to make sure it performs well," regardless of temperature or altitude.

One Ford tunnel tests response to the weather, the other, to altitude.

"We just want to make sure (the test vehicle) does not start to slow down, chug, make weird noises or actually stall out. That's what we're lookin' at to make sure it performs well."

Bob Doyle, supervisor of Ford's two wind tunnels in Allen Park, said the climate-controlled test center that is creating blizzard-like conditions saves time. This is because Ford can test in hot and cold conditions from the same site instead of having to travel, which would slow the process.

"It helps not having to wait for the middle of the winter to conduct a test in upper Canada," Doyle told WXYZ. "We are able to do it here year-round and we are able to have a repeatable test which is extremely important for our product-development engineers."

You can reach TN's Hawke Fracassa at [email protected].

Source: WXYZ TV

Image source: Wikipedia picture of a Ford F-350

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car loans Indi… (not verified)    August 5, 2011 - 7:31PM

I have a friend who works for Ford in Detroit. He was telling me of all of the testing they do with the vehicles and the simulation environments that they put together to test drive on. It is all pretty amazing. I think it would be fun to be one of the test drivers of a Ford vehicle.

monty (not verified)    August 8, 2011 - 2:04PM

I have a friend that works for Ford. He does a lot of the pre testing of the vehicles before they are driven on all of these obstacles. He makes sure things like the off delay timer are working before the driver starts driving the vehicles to test them.